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It's not hard to see reason for hot start



Published: Thu, September 12, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Mooney running back has helped the Cardinals double their win total from last season.

By BRIAN RICHESSON

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

YOUNGSTOWN -- Patsy Malie has an advantage. He becomes invisible.

"I'm not real big, so I'm not going to run through you," explained the 5-foot-8, 180-pound Cardinal Mooney High senior tailback and co-captain. "But I'm agile enough that I can make a couple of moves to get around you."

In that time when he disappears, Malie makes his move.

"We have a pretty good-sized line," said Malie, of Youngstown. "Before I get to the hole, I feel they can't see me.

"Linebackers and defenders can keep an eye on me the whole time, but they don't see me until I get through the hole."

Malie's success and leadership at tailback has coincided with the Cardinals' 2-1 start, including consecutive victories in the past two weeks over Shaker Heights and East Cleveland Shaw.

"We're a couple of mistakes away from being 3-0," said Mooney coach P.J. Fecko, whose team lost to East Liverpool in the season opener.

But now comes the true test -- a trip Friday to Warren Harding (3-0), ranked first in the Division I state poll, to open the Steel Valley Conference season.

Different atmosphere

"Last year was really rough for everybody -- fans, the coaching staff," said Malie, on Mooney's 1-9 season. "I don't think there's any better way we can go against Warren. We're coming off two big wins in a row against two big schools."

Malie and the Cardinals' running game, including senior fullback Bob McCabe, is one component of that success.

"Everybody sees Patsy run the ball and score touchdowns," Fecko said, "but he has stepped up this year to be an all-around player -- a good blocker, a great team leader."

When he reflects on his performance, Malie, whose first name is short for Patrick, doesn't seem impressed.

"Average," he answered, when asked to rate his play. "I've been playing decently, not the best. Hopefully I can do better against Warren."

One key factor that should continue to help Malie is how Mooney has used him this season. He plays exclusively on offense, leaving his linebacking role, which he assumed last season, to teammates.

"It really makes a difference. Last year, playing inside linebacker, every play you're hitting somebody, and then I'd stay on the field and go right to offense," Malie said. "Now, I'm on the sideline resting up, getting water while the defense is out there."

A two-year starter, Malie credits his teammates, including senior lineman and co-captain Larry Sammartino, for Mooney's success. They just hope it continues this weekend against Warren Harding.

"They're always really good," Malie said of the Raiders. "We know it's going to be a dog fight. We just have to have a good week of practice and come out like we have the past two weeks."

richesson@vindy.com




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